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Marine Biodiversity Protection Credit

Raised of $8,900 Goal
Funded on 7/17/23
Successfully Funded
  • $8,900
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 7/17/23

Project Results

Marine Biodiversity Credits (MBCs) entail a natural capital accounting methodology that establishes comparable units of marine biodiversity value, which can be turned into credits or assets. This technical framework outlines the methodology for generating MBCs, which are designed to support both policy and financial applications. The framework is based on the concept of Biodiversity Units (BUs), which are defined as spatially and temporally coherent areas for marine biodiversity evaluation. Within each BU, Marine Biodiversity Units (MBUs) are calculated from a set of modulating factors (MFs) that capture the ecological and social value of marine biodiversity within the area of interest. The MFs are weighted and normalized to generate a single score for each MBU, which reflects its relative biodiversity value. The MBCs are generated without counterfactuals, as they reward maintaining a high baseline of biodiversity within each BU. The methodology includes a buffer that allows for some variability in the MBU scores, while ensuring that the credits are only issued to BUs that maintain a high level of biodiversity. The MBC framework is designed to be flexible and adaptable to different contexts, while ensuring scientific rigor and transparency.

Applied to policy, this accounting methodology can help governments and decision makers base conservation efforts using data-driven ecological economics. More importantly, MBCs are designed to support diverse financial mechanisms. As natural capital assets, once properly issued, they can operate in mechanisms such as guarantees in conservation finance, nature-debt swaps, tradable commodities, or as backing for environmental derivatives and other securities. By providing a market-based mechanism for valuing and protecting marine biodiversity, MBCs have the potential to unlock new sources of funding and engage a wider range of actors in conservation efforts. This paper presents the technical details of the MBC framework and discusses its potential benefits and challenges. 

Access the full whitepaper methodology at:

Access the data pipeline for modulating factor and credit scoring at: 

About This Project

Marine biodiversity protection credits have the potential to contribute to conserving 30% of the world's oceans through scalable financial mechanisms. This project will evaluate this potential by consolidating a scientific data methodology and test its use from biodiversity scientists wanting to score the health of ecosystems and governments quantifying potential biodiversity credits for conservation finance evaluations.

Ask the Scientists

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What is the context of this research?

There exists few financial mechanisms to protect ocean health that scale up to what we need to do to conserve the ocean. Currently, many marine conservation efforts rely on philanthropy, which is not always scalable, or are turning towards carbon markets, which were not designed for ocean solutions and which focus primarily on climate. Efforts to protect the ocean and its ecosystems are however very important for a variety of ocean health metrics, such as marine biodiversity or marine pollution. Not only do these issues affect marine life, but they also affect human health, such as through seafood, for example. Given the specificities of ocean systems and their complexities, we need to build adequate financial mechanisms for the protection and restoration of marine ecosystems.

What is the significance of this project?

In marine biodiversity conservation particularly, market-based instruments (MBIs) have limited success overall, partly due to the fact that the evaluation of ecosystem services is a slow process. So, it's difficult to evaluate the outcomes and effectiveness of marine conservation efforts because: metrics are not standardized, there are different local needs, data is limited and measuring biodiversity “directly” is a complex process. We have developed a comprehensive methodology for calculating marine biodiversity score and baseline maintenance. This project will turn that methodology into open source code that scientists and government can use to perform their own biodiversity values, contribute improvement to the methodology and develop project pilots.

What are the goals of the project?

We are working on the the first credit issuance and methodology of the marine biodiversity credit. We think that to develop a scalable system of marine biodiversity credits, we must first define what the credit unit is. Our goal is to create a scientifically sound and equitable "global scale" of marine biodiversity that supports financial efforts for conservation, meaning it must be scalable and open for experts to review. To achieve this, we aim to develop a metric that incorporates the ecological values of the ecosystems within each squared km of ocean protected thought a marine biodiversity unit. The goal will define the metric and calculation methodology, establish the Python data pipelines for calculation simulations, and publish the work as a technical document.


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We have only few remaining funds for the development of robust marine ecosystem credits that will support financial innovation to Marine Protected Areas (MPA) such as the Cocos Island in Costa Rica (see The remaining funds cover the final knowledge collaborations with the local MPA, but not the actual open source digital and data infrastructure to place all our biodiversity credits methodologies out in the open for other to contribute and collaborate in GitHub. This budget will help us do a final convening of biodiversity credits scientists to review our current natural capital accounting methodology and equations, and support the data engineering tasks to turn the methods into open source python scripts, include sample eDNA data as direct measurement incorporations, and document that work in a technical whitepaper and short video explaining why this work is so impactful to achieve a 30% ocean conversation by 2030.

Endorsed by

Marine Protected Areas as only as successful as they're able to be enforced. A project like this uses cutting edge technology, clear biodiversity metrics, and community engagement to enable MPAs to be successful. I endorse this project and look forward to seeing what the OpenEarth team is able to accomplish.
I have worked with Martin and Francesca on the initial rounds of this project. They have been very diligent about exploring various angles of monitoring marine ecosystem health by open up discussions around the development of their methodology. I believe this will be a well researched and productive protocol to enable marine ecosystem health financing and regeneration.

Project Timeline

What we propose is the creation of a methodology to quantify biodiversity and convert it into a unit to prototype marine biodiversity protection credit through a data pipeline that shows the calculations through a series of functions in python using. We will use existing data on marine biodiversity for the marine protected area of Isla del Coco in Costa Rica, and publish a technical document with the methodology for open review.

Jun 05, 2023

Project Launched

Jul 10, 2023

Definition of biodiversity credit methodology through international expert convening

Jul 31, 2023

Technical document with the full draft Marine Biodiversity Protection Credit methodology

Aug 15, 2023

The data pipeline needed in Python notebooks and GitHub

Aug 31, 2023

Calculations of marine biodiversity credits for the marine protected area of Coco's Island in Costa Rica

Meet the Team

Maureen Fonseca
Maureen Fonseca
Data Scientist and Meteorologist


Open Earth Foundation
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Martin Wainstein
Martin Wainstein
Founder, Executive Director


Open Earth Foundation
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Team Bio

We are an interdisciplinary and international team connected by the purpose of contributing positively to the Earth. We combine our knowledge and skills in emerging digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data and IoT, to bring solutions to the Earth's problems as biodiversity loss and climate change. For this project we will also be collaborating with Paige Lewington and Ando Shah.

Maureen Fonseca

I feel a strong connection with the people, nature and science. I'm passionate about translating technical and scientific information into high impact for our world. I'm a scientist from Costa Rica that finds atmospheric and ocean data science extremely fun. I have a bachelor's degree in meteorology from the University of Costa Rica with a specialization in meteorological data analysis and quality control with a focus on meteorological satellites. I currently lead the Oceans Program at Open Earth Foundation, doing engineering and data analysis of marine biodiversity and marine ecosystems for the development of the marine biodiversity credits methodology. In addition, I am training as a Project Manager with a professional certification.

Martin Wainstein

Martin Wainstein is the founder and Executive Director of the Open Earth Foundation, a research and deployment non-profit focusing on digital innovations and open collaborations around planetary-scale projects such as developing a global climate accounting system—Open Climate. Martin held appointments at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment and the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, where he launched and led the Yale Open Innovation Lab, and advanced projects at the Digital Currency Initiative of the MIT Media Lab. His PhD work focused on the transformation of the global energy business system. He founded the Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting SIG at the Linux Foundation, and actively advises deep tech startups.

Specialties: Biological Sciences, Social Entrepreneurship, Renewable Energies, Corporate Responsibility, Ethics in the exploitation of Natural Resources, Marketing, Graphic Design and Visual Arts.

Additional Information

We have considered two theoretical approaches for calculating biodiversity credits and determining the underlying unit. Approach A has a more global focus, as it relies on globally available datasets. In contrast, Approach B is more locally focused and depends on specific local conservation strategies. We are reviewing the merits and limitations of both approaches to decide which one our official methodology should propose as well as a hybrid approach that includes both. By publishing data pipelines and test simulations, experts can not only provide feedback to the methodology, they can literally contribute code directly on our GitHub.

Project Backers

  • 13Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $8,900Total Donations
  • $684.62Average Donation
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